This woman almost lost $320 because of ‘Flushable’ wipes—here’s what you need to know


It seemed too good to be true, and it was.

The glory days of flushable toilet wipes and other similar products seem to be fading as people discover the “flushable” label is perhaps not 100% accurate.

It’s true that the products will flush — as in, they’ll go down the bowl with no trouble. But where do they go after that?

It turns out that flushing these supposedly “flushable” items may cause more problems than you think.


The Cold, Wet Truth

Blogger Collin Morgan at Hip2Save found out the hard way after her family moved into a 1950s ranch home in Nevada.

They quickly realized that something was really wrong with the house’s plumbing when sewage started backing up into sinks and showers.

A plumber discovered that the home’s pipes were clogged with the family’s flushable wet wipes.



Morgan called the (unnamed) wipe manufacturer to complain. Happily, the company refunded her the money she’d spent on wipes — and sent her a prepaid credit card for the $320 she paid the plumber.



Plumbers Hate ‘Flushable’ Wipes

Morgan’s story is eerily familiar to me. When my husband and I first moved into our house — a ranch, also built in the early 1950s — we noticed that the plumbing was a little slow.

Nothing too terrible happened until we had a fully toilet trained 6-year-old who insisted on using wipes. We thought little of it. They’re flushable, right?

Then the toilet began making bubbling noises when we ran the washing machine. Or the shower.

Finally, dirty water started blasting up and out of the shower drain when the washing machine drained.


Depending upon how recently the toilet had been flushed, the water would either be relatively clear or straight-up sewage.

Our plumber found the same issue: “flushable” wipes, plus “flushable” tampons.

Once he’d bravely cleaned out the nightmarish clogs, he sternly told my husband we should “never, ever” flush those items again. And we haven’t.

A recent study supports our plumber’s command. Researchers at Ryerson University in Canada tested 23 brands of flushable wet wipes to see if they degraded enough to avoid backups.

None did.


What Else Shouldn’t You Flush?

“Consumers are confused about what can be flushed down toilets,” Ryerson researcher Barry Orr told Forbes in April. “Only human waste and toilet paper is it!”

That’s a crystal-clear guideline right there.

But if you still have questions, Popular Science published this list of 14 items that should go in the trash can instead of the toilet.


The very first item on that list? Flushable wipes!

The first half of the list includes these everyday things:

1. Flushable Wipes

2. Dental Floss

3. Hair

4. Blood

5. Tampons

6. Condoms

7. Nail Clippings

The eighth non-flushable thing on the list is another commonly flushed household item: cat litter.


But perhaps you can train the cat to use the toilet and avoid the litter box altogether!

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About the Author
Kathleen St. John
Kathleen St. John is a freelance journalist. She lives in Denver with her husband, two kids and a fiercely protective Chihuahua. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kathleen's work.

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